The Petty Archives

By Bruce Westbrook
Houston Chronicle - Sunday, August 11, 1996

"She's the One," soundtrack | Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. | Warner Bros.
Parading as both a new Tom Petty album and a film soundtrack, this disc has 15 tunes, 10 of which help score the upcoming movie "She's the One."

The film is a wry romantic comedy from Edward Burns, writer-director of "The Brothers McMullen." Petty always has been more wry than romantic, but some of these new songs certainly are comedic.

Petty wrote all but two tracks, including "Climb That Hill," co-written with guitarist Mike Campbell.

The 15-track output isn't as prodigious as it sounds. Two songs get two versions, while two tracks are interludes that run about a minute.

Performances are rock-solid. As you'd expect from a veteran Los Angeles-based rocker, Petty gets big-name session help. Guest backing singers include Carl Wilson and Lindsey Buckingham, while Ringo Starr plays drums on one song.

But overall, this isn't up to Petty's "Wildflowers" standards. Except for "Zero From Outer Space" (not used in the film), nothing kicks into high gear.

"Angel Dream" is a soft, folk-flavored song that echoes Bruce Springsteen, while most other numbers are midtempo and lilting. That includes the highly melodic, slickly produced first single, "Walls," reminiscent of Petty's stints with the Traveling Wilburys.

Indeed, originality is scarce, and Campbell borrows loads of licks. On "Climb That Hill," he apes Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," and on "Supernatural Radio," he cops riffs from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's "Ohio."

Aside from "Walls," which gets a melancholy yet defiant reprise, the best songs are Petty's affectionate pop-rock ode to his adopted state, "California," and his amusing kiss-off song, "Change the Locks."

""I change the kind of clothes I wear, so you can't find me anywhere," he sings to a jilted lover.

Yes, it's wry. It's funny. Maybe it even fits the film. But if that movie inspired Petty, it doesn't show here.